Honorable Mention

Firing for the World



Submitted by: Wenpeng Xu

Program: Anthropology

Division: Behavioral and Social Sciences

This image depicts the debris of a 12th-century dragon kiln at Dehua in Southeast China. Thousands of porcelain shards and broken saggars on the site reveal an industrial scale of porcelain production in the preindustrial era. Located in the coastal mountain region, this kiln was also indispensable to the premodern global market since its products were made exclusively for export. In the summer of 2017, I conducted an archaeological survey at Dehua and found dozens of export-oriented kilns of this scale in an area of 100 square miles. By analyzing the homogeneity and heterogeneity of porcelain products within and between kilns, I am going to examine the production strategies used by local manufacturers to compete in the premodern global market. This research will expand the understanding of the historical development of mass production and globalization.